Choosing the Right Large-Format Substrate

The type of substrate (material that can be directly printed on) you choose for a large-format print job can go a long way. Most importantly, it can affect the quality and the cost of the printing process. There are a lot of substrate options to choose from, with new materials being introduced all the time. Let’s take a look at some of the things that will factor into your substrate decision, along with some of the more popular types that are commonly used.

Application and Durability
Application should be the first consideration in choosing a substrate. It’s essential to understand the potential surrounding environment of the final product—will this material be used indoors or outdoors. Even if the material ends up indoors, there may still be high exposure to sunlight. The material may also need to be water resistant, especially if it’s placed in a kitchen or a bathroom. There is a wide array of substrate options that can cater to many different environmental elements, such as sunlight, water exposure, extreme heat, and frigid temperatures.

The durability of a substrate relates to the long term life of a product. For example, if you are working on a “floor graphic application,” you will need a substrate that can handle the wear and tear of heavy foot traffic. Or, if you are designing a trade show graphic that will be transported all over the country, you will need a sturdy type of substrate that is durable enough to stand up to a good deal of handling.

Material cost and other considerations
The cost of substrate materials depends on the project, as the size and volume of materials needed will have a major influence on the final cost. There are many varying factors that come into play; however, with so many substrate options available, businesses are most often able to land on a choice that best fits the projected budget.

Common substrate materials
Here’s a quick look at some of the substrate options that are commonly utilized today:

Paper: the most common type of substrate that varies in color, weight, and texture. It’s a great low-cost solution for nearly any need.
Aluminum: ideal for outdoor signage that requires photo quality printing. It’s available in a wide range of colors and offers superior rigidity.
Vinyl: often sold by the roll, this is a great choice for banner or wallpaper applications. It can easily be cut into shapes, and it can also support full color images.
Styrene: this is a rigid, low-cost plastic material that is excellent for indoor signage.
Canvas: this is ideal for high resolution printing needs, particularly, photographic prints.

For more information on the many different substrate options that are available for your large-format print jobs, contact Infomax Office Systems today.

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